Many Georgia residents draft their own wills. However, they should be aware of which mistakes to avoid so that their preferences are honored after they die. One is failing to name all immediate relatives or those who would have cause to contest the contents of a will. Relatives are entitled to know if they have been disinherited, which the court will do when the will has been submitted for probate. The will should include names of living and deceased spouses, parents, children and siblings and should detail who has been disinherited.
Georgia residents who wish to leave a portion of their estate to a charity might want to use a charitable split-interest trust. This type of trust provides an income for the beneficiary as well as supporting a charity. With a charitable remainder trust, there is a set amount of time in which the trust pays the settlor or the beneficiary at least once a year. At the end of the term, which could be a person's lifetime, the remaining assets go to the charity. With a charitable lead trust, this is done in reverse with the charity receiving distributions for a set period of time and the remaining assets going to the beneficiary at the trust's end.
When Georgia residents have worked all their lives to build up a sizable estate, they may worry their heirs may not be good money managers or will fritter away their inheritances in a short while. There are, however, ways in which they can protect their heirs from themselves.
Georgia residents who have prepared medical or financial powers of attorney might want to review them with an attorney to make sure they are still current. Starting in 1993 with the Uniform Health Care Decisions Act, there have been several changes in law that could affect the validity or function of a power of attorney. For example, the UHCDA expands the decision-making powers of the medical POA to include items such as organ donation and life-prolonging procedures. Medical POAs created prior to 1993 can be updated to include these decision-making abilities.
An estate plan may provide several benefits to Georgia adults. For instance, it may help them limit the burden of estate taxes or provide greater control over where assets go after death. It may also make the process of settling an estate easier on surviving family members. There are several steps that should be taken to create a quality estate plan.
Remarriages and blended families are common in Georgia, but many of those involved are unaware of how to deal with pitfalls in finances and the law. The management of an estate and and naming of beneficiaries, as well as decisions about how and when to make assets available to those beneficiaries, are made more complicated by multiple marriages. There are some key areas that require attention and strategies for ensuring assets end up in the right hands.
People in Georgia who are creating estate plans may wonder whether they should use trusts instead. A trust may offer a number of advantages over a will, one of which is avoiding the potentially costly and lengthy probate process. Trust assets can be passed directly to beneficiaries without requiring a probate court to get involved.
While attorneys may draft wills, powers of attorney and trusts, Georgia estate holders must write their own letters of final wishes. A letter of final wishes gives a testator's family members, close friends and trusted colleagues information that they will likely need but cannot find in traditional estate planning documents. In addition to conveying an individual's last wishes and reflections, these letters can be a source of great comfort to grieving relatives and acquaintances during a difficult time.
Georgia residents who have created an estate plan with a strategy that aims to minimize federal estate tax might want to review that plan in case the estate tax is repealed. While its future is uncertain, thinking about a strategy now will allow people to make changes quickly if the repeal goes into effect with little notice.
When creating an estate plan, many Georgia residents focus on their will and how they want their property distributed when they die. While these are important topics, people should also think about other things. Some potential areas of concern for someone creating an estate plan include funding their funeral and setting up a revocable trust.